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April fool's holidays' law muddle no joke

Thursday, March 30, 2006

April fool's holidays' law muddle no joke

Employers will wake up this Saturday with the headache of figuring out how to make the transition to four weeks holiday for their staff.

"Four weeks holiday in 2007 starts this year on April 1st for employers," said David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for EMA (Northern).

"Though employees won't get the four week entitlement until their work anniversary date on or after 1 April 2007, employers have to start putting aside the money now.

"The muddle results from the holidays' law in 2003 being drafted in isolation from the practical realities of the workplace.

"The law assumes businesses allocate holiday entitlements once a year but it is based on work practices abandoned long ago. Business has long since adopted modern accrual methods.

"The concept is simple but no one asked employers how best to make it happen.

"Another error in the writing of the law requires employers to back-pay the extra weeks leave to 2006 next year if an employee resigns after April 2007 but before they are entitled to the extra week's holiday.

"The four weeks fiasco is another example of 'unintended consequences' which happen because governments don't listen to the people affected.

"EMA's free telephone advice service has been inundated with inquiries. Our workshops to help employers figure out what to do have sold out four times.

"The muddle has to be fixed."


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